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(aka 'Charulata' or 'The Lonely Wife')

Directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1964

 

Satyajit Ray’s exquisite story of a woman’s artistic and romantic yearning takes place in late nineteenth-century, pre-independence India, in the gracious home of a liberal-minded, workaholic newspaper editor and his lonely wife, Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee). When her husband’s poet cousin (Soumitra Chatterjee) comes to stay with them, Charulata finds herself both creatively inspired and dangerously drawn to him. Based on a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is a work of subtle textures, a delicate tale of a marriage in jeopardy and a woman taking the first steps toward establishing her own voice.

***

Satyajit Ray's fascination with Rabindranath Tagore culminated in CHARULATA, his twelfth film and arguably his greatest achievement. Based on a short story by Tagore, it is a surprisingly modern tale of love, lust, fidelity, and a woman's growing self-awareness against the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance, a vibrant intellectual awakening in 19th-century India.


Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), the childless wife of a wealthy Bengali intellectual, lives in seclusion in her spacious and ornate home in Calcutta, while winds of change are blowing away the cobwebs outside. Her husband, Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee), inspired by Mill and Bentham, spends his inherited wealth in the pursuit of freedom and equality, by editing an English-language liberal political weekly. But he has no time for Charu, who has little to do in a home run like a well-oiled machine by a fleet of old retainers.

With its beauty, structural perfection and conceptual purity, CHARULATA remains a triumph of Ray's craftsmanship and cinematic vision. The exquisite interiors created by art director Bansi Chandragupta were among the best of his work, as were the subtle use of lights and the sensitivity of Subrata Mitra's camera. The costumes, the faces, and the detailed structuring of the film created a superbly colourful piece of monochrome cinema. CHARULATA has the quality of a miniature painting, where minute details are revealed by a stroke of the finest brush, and the unspoken is made visual by a mere suggestion.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

 

  Posters

 

Theatrical Release: June 1965 - Berlin International Film Festival

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Comparison:

Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

   

Artificial Eye is simultaneously releasing Charulata for Region B Blu-ray here:

Distribution Bollywood Entertainment Home Video - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 669  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:50:04 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:59:32.748 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.43 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,760,191,193 bytes

Feature: 34,922,999,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Bengali (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio Bengali 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, Hindi, French, German, Dutch, Russian, None English, and none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Bollywood Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• One song

DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2006

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 14

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,760,191,193 bytes

Feature: 34,922,999,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Edition Details:
• New interview program with actors Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee (16:50)
• Adapting Tagore, a new interview program featuring Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and Bengali cultural historian Supriya Chaudhuri (23:44)
• Archival audio interview with director Satyajit Ray, conducted by film historian Gideon Bachmann (12:51)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp and a 1980s interview with Ray by his biographer Andrew Robinson

 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Transparent
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 21

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION Criterion Blu-ray - July 2013: Not much to say in regards to the comparison aspect of the matching captures. Beside the Criterion 1080P transfer with atmospheric bitrate, the 2006 SD is now unwatchable. After years of very weak digital efforts of Ray's films it is so refreshing to see Criterion and Artificial Eye put many of them to Blu-ray. It's difficult to find weakness with the Criterion - as I am so appreciative of the HD image. It is a shade soft, you can see, mostly in the opening, some restoration work - but overall it is quite consistent with strong contrast. It is fairly flat but shows some grain. I was very pleased with the video presentation.

Criterion transfer the audio to a linear PCM 1.0 channel mono track at 1152 kbps in the original Bengali. This is a bit weaker with an occasional tinny high end but again, overall, I am very happy in comparison to the DVD. The music number sounded fine. There are optional English subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is predictably region 'A'-locked.

Criterion have conducted new interviews in Kolkata with lead actors Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee running 17-minutes in Bengali with optional English subtitles. There is also a new interview program, ala Criterion, featuring Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and Bengali cultural historian Supriya Chaudhuri entitled Adapting Tagore. They discuss Ray's controversial adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novella The Broken Nest for almost 25-minutes. We also get a 13-minute archival (July 2nd, 1966) audio interview with director Satyajit Ray, conducted by film historian Gideon Bachmann discussing the recurring theme of progress in Ray's films. Included in the package is a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp and a 1980s interview with Ray by his biographer Andrew Robinson.

How wonderful. Essential Satyajit Ray, not unlike The Music Room in that regard, and Criterion have made a worthy Blu-ray package - very strongly recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: I had already heard some bad things about this DVD transfer... and I see they were accurate - it is quite poor. Our bitrate chart confirms that it is from an analog source. While I have certainly seen worse what I am most bothered about is the contrast boosting which often obscures details in the background (see examples below). It is a totally unnecessary digital manipulation that is only used to hide poor detail (and obviously bring up very dark scenes) or mask damage. It is neither progressive nor, I'll assume, from the correct standard as there are 'combing' problems evident throughout all horizontal pans.

The extras consist of a single song (one used in the film) and I'll gather as the name of the production company is 'Bollywood Entertainment' that they have surely missed the mark in rendering this particular title to digital. Commonly with Bollywood films (of which Charulata is NOT one, btw) there is a lot of song, dance and music - this is the place in the supplements where they could have put the many musical numbers that infuse a Bollywood expression. Here it looks kind of silly. Other than that the subtitles have various gaps and this is obviously not a disc that we can recommend. I suspect that my VHS is of better quality. If you are intent on buying to see the masterpiece film (perhaps my 2nd favorite of Ray's) BEWARE!

Gary W. Tooze

 


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1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Bollywood Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


Box Covers

 

   

Artificial Eye is simultaneously releasing Charulata for Region B Blu-ray here:

Distribution Bollywood Entertainment Home Video - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 669  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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